Sunday, May 19, 2013

Not "discrimination" to ban prostitute from motel

THE owner of a country motel who won an appeal against a sex worker who took a discrimination case against her says she is "ecstatic" that her business reputation has been restored.

Drovers Rest Motel manager Joan Hartley, who in 2008 told the sex worker she could not come back and rent a room for prostitution, said the motel had become known as "the whorehouse of Moranbah".

"Now I just want it known as the Drovers Rest - the nice, quiet, homely, friendly place it's always been," Mrs Hartley, 67, said. "I'm not a prude. I believe there is a place for these people, but that place is not in my motel."

Mrs Hartley, who with husband Evan, 68, has been running the motel for 13 years, said it had been stressful fighting the discrimination case.

"We are ecstatic, not only for ourselves, but because we've been able to win a situation where every motel owner can say 'no' to these people because they can ruin their business reputation," Mrs Hartley said.

On Friday the Court of Appeal overturned an appeal decision in Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which the sex worker won last year.

The court heard that on June 28, 2010, the sex worker, who had stayed at the motel for prostitution purposes during the previous two years, was told she would have to stay elsewhere in future.

In 2011 the legal sex worker, who had been earning $2000 a day during sporadic visits to the Drovers Rest, lost the first round of her discrimination case against the motel, then won an appeal in QCAT.

The motel owners appealed and on Friday the Court of Appeal unanimously found in their favour.


Horrible bureaucratic bastardry by Child safety officials

THE Department of Child Safety has launched an investigation into the suspected misconduct of its staff after they failed to disclose the sexual history of a child placed with a foster family, who then went on to sexually assault their eight-year-old son.

Despite this, they are still suing the mother for neglect.

In February this year, Ethical Standards investigator Gavin Gleeson wrote to the victim's mother and her lawyer advising of the need to interview them regarding the conduct of departmental employees who were involved in the placement.

"My duty is to investigate the conduct of the departmental staff during this process, their compliance with departmental policy, procedures and guidelines and the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service and determine if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate or otherwise allegations of suspected official misconduct," Mr Gleeson wrote in an email on February 13.

The foster mother, who cannot be identified, sued Child Safety for failing to advise of her foster child's sexual history, but the State Government has filed a taxpayer-funded claim seeking the mum pay any court-ordered compensation because she was responsible for the foster child's "conduct and behaviour", and failed to maintain a "safe environment" for her own son.

McInnes Wilson Lawyers partner Jacqui Eager, who is representing the foster mother, said the State Government continued "to maintain that the actions of the Department were not negligent and that our client and her partner are at fault for the incident".

"We will continue to strongly defend the frivolous contribution claim that the state has made against our client and continue to fight to protect her rights and recover for her compensation which she is entitled to," she said.

The Courier-Mail revealed last year an internal Child Safety review into the incident and a transcript of a meeting with Child Safety officers showed the parents asked twice if the foster child, then 15, had any history of sexualised behaviour.

The mother said she had asked the department because it was rumoured the boy had been molested.

The review said a Child Safety officer told the parents, "it was not believed (the boy) had any current sexualised behaviour" and failed to tell them of reports of past sexual incidents.

The review found the parents were not given the full and frank information they were supposed to receive under the Child Protection Act and ordered staff undergo more training.

But Child Safety officers in southeast Queensland told the parents that their office could not be held accountable for a regional office failing to reveal the boy's history. The office put the onus on the parents by saying it was up to the family to write letters to the other office seeking answers.

The department of Child Safety declined to comment because the matter is before the court.


Community never gave up on missing toddler

Australia is still a great place.  Australian police not so much

WHEN police scaled back their search for toddler Tyler Kennedy at nightfall on Friday, nearby residents refused to give up, turning out in droves to scour the thick bushland where he had disappeared.

With temperatures plunging to 6C, the community of Johns River, on the mid-north coast, feared two-year-old Tyler could die of exposure.

Last night police admitted: "In hindsight, an official search could have continued into the night," and Police Minister Mike Gallacher is demanding a police report explaining the decision to scale down the search.

Soon after the official search was scaled down at 5.30pm, more than 100 volunteers joined the only remaining police officer on the scene and the search was back on.

By 1.15am, a group of volunteers found Tyler in thick scrub just 150m from Wharf Rd, where he had wandered off from a mechanic's office about 15 hours earlier.Tyler, covered in scratches and bitterly cold, was reunited with his distraught mother Amanda Kennedy. "I was speechless when they said they had to call it off," Ms Kennedy, 21, said. "My heart stopped and I walked away. I couldn't handle it.

"We thought, 'OK, we'll call in our own search party and get everyone out there to find him'."

Her partner Tim Henson said there was no resentment towards the police who were "just following procedure"."Of course we were disappointed but it didn't stop everyone from searching," Mr Henson, 29, said.

Manning Great Lakes police commander Superintendent Peter Thurtell said the decision to scale back the search "was not made lightly".

"It came after a six-hour search of waterways and rugged bushland, which involved extensive resources from both local police and the SES," he said. "We are extremely pleased for Tyler's family that he was found safe."Supt Thurtell added: "In hindsight, an official search could have continued into the night."

Tyler wandered into the bush while his parents were getting a pink slip for their car. Police scoured the Johns River State Forest with a helicopter as local officers and SES volunteers were joined by the police dog squad before the search was suspended because of poor light.

Mr Henson said the volunteers, mobilised by phone, social media and word of mouth, arrived at the property from Port Macquarie, Kempsey and even Wollongong.

"The street was full of cars," he said. "People just kept turning up wanting to help."

Ms Kennedy said she was overwhelmed when she was finally reunited with her son.

"The first hug was amazing," she said. "It was like he was first born. It was the best hug we've had. I can't explain it. Knowing that he was out there cold and hadn't had a drink or anything to eat - it was just awful.

"I was so scared he might have tripped over and landed in water and every time I heard a train go by my heart stopped and I blocked my ears."

Just after 1am, Ms Kennedy said she thought "a fight had broken out" but it turned out to be celebration by the volunteers who found Tyler.

"Tim came running into the house yelling," she said.

"I went out and someone had him wrapped up in all these jackets and he was really really cold."

Tyler was released in good health from Port Macquarie hospital about 8.30am. He ate four Weet-Bix and a sandwich, Ms Kennedy said.


Old diggers hit by Gillard

A CRUCIAL in-home care service that provides meals for veterans and war widows has been axed by the Federal Government.

Despite a boost in defence spending of more than $5 billion in the next three years, the Commonwealth has withdrawn the funding for the Home and Community Care program.

The program provides assessment, co-ordination and home-care services tailored to the needs of ex-servicemen and women and war widows.

The move has been criticised by the RSL.

The State Government estimates more than 1500 Victorian veterans and widows will miss out on meals and more than 1500 recipients will no longer benefit from activities' groups when the funding runs dry next July.

State Health Minister David Davis has written to Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon, urging him to reconsider the cut.

Mr Davis said Victoria's war veterans deserved respect and dignity, and stripping them of these services was a slap in the face.

"This is a sad decision and it is the wrong decision," Mr Davis said.  "The purpose of this funding is to make sure we provide a high level of tailored support."

While many of the recipients will still be eligible to receive similar in-home care, Mr Davis said the veterans and war widows would be required to apply for the services through the general HACC program. That is expected to add further strain to the system.

The RSL's Victorian president, Major General David McLachlan, said the service was extremely important. He urged the Federal Government to continue to fund the program.  "Everyone wants to stay in their own home, but we need to offer these people support," he said.

"HACC has been able to assist these veterans and war widows by looking at their requirements and tailoring support to their needs."

Gen McLachlan said most of the recipients were World War II veterans or widows who had served Australia.  "You would think the Government could keep it going for the small number of veterans until they go to their final resting place," he said.

"It's providing care for the veterans that have given so much and who we can thank for the way we live life today."

The Government will save more than $25 million by axing the program. It says the money saved will be reallocated for veterans' mental health.

Mr Snowdon's spokeswoman, Lidija Ivanovski, said the Federal Budget had made no changes to the veterans' home-care program but the money had been reallocated.

"Veterans have the same right of access to Home and Community Care services as other Australians," she said. "This will not change."


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